To some of you, this may seem like an odd question. I mean, surely if you have optimised a page for a keyword and it ranks in position #1, then you are doing good SEO, right?
Well, this all depends if searchers are clicking your search snippet. If they are ignoring it or favouring your competitors, then your search snippet is not click-through rate (CTR) optimised.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, CTR refers to the number of times a searcher clicks a result divided by the number of impressions or times the ad is shown.
If you have worked in PPC, the importance of optimising your CTR is a no brainer.
Firstly, it increases clicks to your site. Secondly, it can deliver a higher quality score – meaning your ad will rank higher and you will pay less for each click. The PPC expert will optimise an ad’s headline, description and display URL to persuade the searcher to click their ads, before trying to outbid the competition – or outrank them on price alone.
The problem in SEO is that this logic is often reversed where optimising CTRs are almost always secondary to achieving top ranking positions.
In this post, we will explore three key ways to approach optimising your search snippet for both rankings and CTRs.
Title tags appear within search results, on tabs within your browser, and within external links on social media.
They offer searchers, search engines and social users information about the topic of a page.
Along with other on page factors – such as content, internal links, URLs and image alt text – keyword targeting within the title can have a positive, short term influence on rankings.
However, titles are the major influencer in attracting or repelling searchers from clicking your search snippet, so it’s important to keep them user friendly & compelling rather than stuffing them with keywords in an attempt to gear top ranking positions.
Follow these best practices when creating your titles:
- Craft a unique title for each landing page.
- Limit titles to 50-60 characters (preferably 55), otherwise you run risk of them being cut off or auto-shortened by the search engine.
- Keep titles descriptive, accurate and relevant to the landing page.
- Use 1-3 primary keywords, but avoid overloading the title with excessive long tail or repeating the same keyword.
- If viable, include primary keywords closest to the left.
- Include words that qualify the service, such as affordable, transparent, expert, Sydney.
- Include a USP or call to action where possible.
- If you are running a PPC campaign, review your best performing ads to see if any great headlines used within your SEO titles.
- If you have a strong reputation and searchers are likely to recognise your company name, consider including your brand name in the title.
Meta Description Tags
Meta descriptions are your second line of attack. A well-crafted meta description acts to grab searchers’ attention and motivate them to click through to your content.
You also have about three times more space to work with than within your title, so use each character to your advantage.
Also keep in mind about meta descriptions is that they have no bearing on search rankings – their sole purpose is to enhance your CTR. So, once again, stuffing them with keywords or lifting the first line of text from your landing page will not crack it.
Follow these best practices when creating your meta descriptions:
- Craft a unique meta description for each landing page.
- Limit your meta description to 150-160 characters.
- Keep in mind that your meta description needs to provide a solution to the searcher’s problem – whether, for example, it is to find a tax consultant in Sydney, information on how to submit a tax return, or a free income tax calculator. Think about the queries they might pose and test your meta description against these.
- Include a call to action. What will the searcher achieve by clicking through to your page? Use action words, such as learn, download, subscribe, enquire, apply and discover.
- Include benefits and unique selling points of your offer. Consider the way your competitors present themselves and aim to differentiate yourself. Consider what unique benefits of your product or service would be of interest to your target audience.
- Including your primary keyword is not essential, but they will be bolded if the words used in searchers query match those within your meta description. Consider including one or two of your primary keywords.
These days, optimising your URL for targeted keywords is regarded as having a relatively low impact on organic rankings, but the visible URL in your search snippet still plays an important role in influencing clicks to your website.
Follow these best practices when optimising your URLs:
- Keep a simple URL structure, such as example.com/tax-services or www.example.com/services/tax.
- Rewrite URLs that use parameters and session ids (i.e. https://www.example.com/index.php?id_sezione=360&sid=3a5ebc944f41daa6f849f730f1).
- Keep URLS shorter than 2083 characters
- Use hyphens to separate words.
It’s very tempting to throw all of your time and energy into gearing top ranking positions. But don’t forget to optimise the CTR of your search snippet, as you could be losing out on heaps of qualified traffic. In this post we have outlined some best practices for titles, meta descriptions and URLs to keep you rankings and reaping the traffic rewards.
Tags: click through rate, CTR
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